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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

arts community events

IU cultural centers celebrate the Day of the Dead

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) 2018

People flocked together at La Casa Latino Cultural Center to celebrate the Mexican traditional holiday, the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. 

The center was decorated with paper marigolds — the flowers of the dead that were traditionally considered to attract the souls of the dead to the offerings.

On Oct. 31, the staff at La Casa dressed up as calacas — a Mexican term for skeleton — and painted their faces to look like skulls to be easily identified by the spirits of the dead to help guide the spirits from the dead to the living.

This year, the altar at La Casa was dedicated to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Other cultural centers also set up altars to honor different communities. The First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, for example, dedicated their altar to honor the native and indigenous communities. 

“It’s a good way to build community and honor our roots and traditions,” said graduate student Susan Caman, one of the event planners. 

Ph.D. students Paola Mattey from Costa Rica and Luis Mestre from Puerto Rico attended the event. Mattey said they both relate to the Hispanic/Latino environment that La Casa provides, and it’s a good way to have a little piece of their roots when in a foreign country. 

“In general, it is great,” Mestre said. “It represents that there is a Latino community there, and that is fundamental.”

Mestre said that though people may come from different Latin American countries, they still feel like a united community where people relate and treat others like family at IU. 

The LGBTQ+ Cultural Center dedicated their altar to commemorate lives lost to discrimination and violence. More than ten pictures of these victims were displayed at the altar. 

Doug Bauder, the director at the LGBTQ+ Cultural Center, said that it is necessary to honor the dead in the LGBTQ culture and to honor those on whose shoulders they stand. 

“We’re good neighbors with our friends and we honor the cultural traditions,” Bauder said. “But it also reminds people that we all have people we love in our lives and that’s important to honor those and remember those who went before us.”

Senior Charnita Johnson, the social work intern who came up with the idea for this year's theme, said that the altar is designed to educated people about the LGBTQ community and what they have to go through. 

“Each death gives a message that at the end of the day, those who identify as queer are human,” Johnson said. “It is not your right to tell them that being gay or transgender is not the right way to go about things.

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